Not every situation needing immediate response requires an emergency permit. DTSC issues this special type of permit when a hazardous waste poses a threat to human health and the environment, but action to remediate the situation may be delayed for a short time without increasing the risk. Situations requiring immediate action do NOT need an emergency permit, but do require DTSC’s notification, follow-up report, and possible site monitoring after the threat is abated.
This webpage was designed to help distinguish between situations requiring immediate action and situations requiring an emergency permit, and to provide information for meeting DTSC’s requirements for both types of events.
An emergency permit is a temporary authorization from DTSC for the treatment or containment of hazardous waste which poses an imminent and substantial risk to human health and the environment. Emergency permits may be issued to a facility that does not have a hazardous waste facility permit or to a permitted facility for activities not otherwise allowed. The determination of whether or not an emergency permit should be issued must be made on a case-by-case basis, and includes ongoing assessment throughout the resolution of the situation.
Where merited, DTSC can issue an emergency permit orally, followed by a written permit within 5 days. The effective time durations for emergency permits vary, but cannot exceed 90 days. Emergency permits cannot be renewed. There are no fees required to request or conduct activities under an emergency permit. Emergency permit determinations must comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Generally, a Notice of Exemption from CEQA is warranted and will be prepared by DTSC. DTSC will give public notice of the issuance of the emergency permit.
Immediate response situations fall into one of two categories: 1) immediate threat situation (no emergency permit required); or 2) high-priority threat situation (emergency permit required).
1. Immediate Threat Situation: An immediate threat will be presumed to exist if there is sufficient evidence that persons or the environment may be injured if IMMEDIATE actions are not taken to reduce or eliminate the threat from the hazardous waste involved. Although an emergency permit is NOT required in immediate threat situations, the event must be reported to DTSC as soon as possible (within 5 days) after the threat is abated.
2. High-priority Threat Situation: A high-priority threat is identified when an immediate threat does not exist, but risks to persons and the environment are posed by ignitable, corrosive, reactive, or toxic wastes; and the risk doesn’t increase with a delay in treatment. High-priority threat situations require DTSC approval PRIOR to management of the hazardous waste and an emergency permit must be requested.
As soon as an immediate response situation arises, determine which threat situation (immediate or high-priority) applies. See “When is an Emergency Permit Required?” section.
For immediate threat situations, DTSC approval is NOT required prior to taking action, but a summary report must be submitted to DTSC within 5 days of the incident. Follow the DTSC notification instructions for Information to Include When Reporting an Immediate Threat Situation.
For high-priority threat situations, contact DTSC to request an emergency permit at:
Follow the instructions for Emergency Permit Application Requirements.
The initial request for an emergency permit may be submitted to DTSC electronically, but must be followed by a letter, signed by a person having appropriate authority at the facility. Indicate in the e-mail message and/or letter that an emergency permit is being requested. Once DTSC determines that the application is complete, and where merited, an emergency permit can be granted orally. A written permit will be issued within 5 days of the oral permit.
What Information Needs to be Provided to DTSC After an Emergency Permit is Issued?
Typically a condition of the emergency permit will require submittal of a final report. This report shall include certification that the area has been cleared of all residual hazardous waste generated from this emergency and all generated waste has been properly managed.
The final report must contain the following certification: "I certify under penalty of law that this document and all attachments were prepared under my direction or supervision in accordance with a system designed to assure that qualified personnel properly gather and evaluate the information submitted. Based on my inquiry of the person or persons who manage the system, or those persons directly responsible for gathering the information, the information submitted is, to the best of my knowledge and belief, true, accurate, and complete. I am aware that there are significant penalties for submitting false information, including the possibility of fine and imprisonment for knowing violations."